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Let's go through it and number the issues with the order of creation. Some issues are with science (I mark with an S), but others are actually apparent even to an ancient reader, within the text itself (I mark with a T)

Day One

1(S). The Heavens and the Earth are created first. In science, though, Earth is a planet that seems to have been formed long after the sun and much of the Universe.

In Genesis 1-5, we read that G-d created light on the first day, before the sun. This matches what we know from science (since the sun is a star that began to exist later).

2(T). However, "evening and morning" are happening without the sun and the moon. Did ancient Israelites believe that the light is not coming from the sun itself?

Second Day

In genesis 1-6 we read that the Raqiya (expanse?) was created, which separates waters below from the waters above. Then 7-10 we see the Yabasha (Dry Land) be created.

3(S). There does not seem to be any "firmament" so Raqiya could refer to an expanse of air, perhaps. Is this how ancient Israelites understood the "hydrologic cycle"?

4(T). Raqiya and Yabasha are named Heaven and Earth, but they were already mentioned in the first verse. So now they are finally made? The verb is "Yaase" when the Raqiya is being made the second time. And when the Dry Land is named Earth refers to something different than the first time. But the first time, Earth is being described as being formless.

Third Day

Plants appear, without the sun, on the third day.

5(S). How can plants exist without photosynthesis? Was there some kind of other mechanism by which plants could arise? Trees, for example, grow by sunlight from the atmosphere sequestering carbon after it is separated from the oxygen, and this carbon adds to the mass of the tree.

6(T). In Genesis 2, the plants have not yet even come up by day 6, so Rashi resolves this by saying they were under the ground. Perhaps they were not yet "made", but the verb is "Totze", the Earth "brought forth" the trees.

Fourth Day

Finally, the sun and the moon are made. And all the stars.

7(S). In science, the stars are massive (some much more massive than the sun), and many would predate the Sun and the Earth.

Fifth Day

Fish, great sea monsters, and Birds are created.

Sixth Day

Finally, all the beasts, cattle and creeping things of the Earth are created.

8(S) From the fossil record, it seems that birds were created after land animals. However, here we could have something really interesting, as birds trace their lineage to the dinosaurs, while the "modern" beasts and cattle are warm-blooded animals that perhaps appeared later. But we have fossils of warm-blooded animals 200 million years ago, while pterosaur fossils go back to 170 million years ago.

Can someone please answer the S questions with respect to today's understanding, and T questions with respect to mainstream historical traditional understanding of the issues within the text?

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  • 1
    There's a question (or perhaps several) around here somewhere on light before the Sun. Short version... there was light before the Sun. C.f. Revelation 21:23.
    – Matthew
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:18
  • You have answered some of the questions, and I am indeed welcoming a geocentric point of view like the one you're giving. Still, there are many other unanswered points as you can see above. Including in the text itself. Please write an answer with as many issues addressed as you can. Oct 20, 2022 at 1:00
  • 5
    You reconcile Genesis with science by realizing the Genesis author is not trying to do astrophysics, geology, hydrology, ... but instead is doing theology - making key claims using the cultural beliefs in which the text was first written as a launching point. Having said that, "we know from science" Really? Or perhaps some people believe certain things based on certain scientific theories. It's almost jarring how little people realize the speculation and lack of knowledge which goes into contemporary theories of astrophysics, evolutionary biology, and so on. Oct 21, 2022 at 18:05
  • See Augustine's "On the Literal Meaning of Genesis."
    – Maverick
    Dec 6, 2023 at 16:56

8 Answers 8

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Entire books have been written on this subject. I'm not going to go into as much detail as these topics deserve; please ask follow-up questions or discuss in chat.

Before addressing specific points, we need to start with a brief analysis of what "science" "knows".

Modern "science" is ultimately based on the foundation of Uniformitarianism, founded primarily by Charles Lyell. The key point of Uniformitarianism is that what we observe happening now is what has always happened; "the present is the key to the past". Through examining processes that occur very slowly today, it was decided that Earth must be many hundreds of thousands of years old. (This number continued to increase over time until today's claim of billions of years.) This in turn opened the door for more widespread belief in the origin of life as due to natural processes rather than Special Creation. Ungodly humans, desperate to rationalize their denial of the plain Truth of God's existence (n.b. Romans 1:20), are extremely zealous about defending these assertions.

The problem is... Uniformitarianism has been pretty well discredited. We know from experience that rare, catastrophic events can cause massive geological changes in a matter of days, hours, or even minutes. We know from observation and experiments that processes claimed to require thousands or millions of years (e.g. petrification, formation of fossils, coal, oil, diamonds, stalactites, etc.) can occur in months, days, or even hours; the critical factor isn't time, it's environment.

With the collapse of its foundation, this interpretation of the evidence has become an exercise largely in circular reasoning.

The best two lines of evidence for "deep time" are radiometric dating and distant starlight. The latter, however, tells us only that we can see distant stars, while the former is full of assumptions, chief among them that the rate of decay has always remained constant. Observation, however, gives us cause to doubt this, and there are several problems with radiometric dating, including the existence of radiohalos, excess helium (alpha-decay byproducts that should have disippated), systemic inconsistencies when comparing different testing methods, and presence of 14C in virtually all carbon-containing samples, including those that, according to "traditional" dating, should be completely devoid of 14C.

The dates traditionally ascribed to the fossil record are similarly based on assumption, and numerous problems exist. These include polystrate folds with no evidence of heat or pressure deformation, polystrate fossils, "out of order" fossils, secondary evidence (e.g. footprints) of animals preceding their fossils, layers supposedly separated by millions of years with no evidence of weathering, preserved soft tissues and DNA of supposedly millions-of-years-old animals, and human depictions of animals claimed to have been extinct long before humans.

It needs to be noted that this "traditional" interpretation necessarily denies the global Flood, despite there being much evidence thereof. (For one, it's now recognized that fossils are produced primarily in floods! The sheer size of many geological strata also speaks to rock being laid down on continental scales, as does other fossil evidence.) Moreover, however, it should be noted that such attitudes were accurately predicted almost 2,000 years ago:

3 ... scoffers will come in the last days ... 4 [saying] "all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that ... 6 the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (2 Peter 3 ESV)


Now that we have the necessary background, what about the specific items in the question?

(S) The Heavens and the Earth are created first. In science, though, Earth is a planet that seems to have been formed long after the sun and much of the Universe.

The "evidence" for Earth having "formed long after the sun" is primarily based on Uniformitarian assertions which deny God's Word. As such, we ought to be cautious how much weight we put on them. Conversely, there are a number of evidences that Earth and other planets in the Solar System are only thousands of years old.

However, "evening and morning" are happening without the sun and the moon. Did ancient Israelites believe that the light is not coming from the sun itself?

I can't speak to what the ancient Israelites believed, but modern Creationists absolutely believe "that the light is not coming from the sun". This is clearly consistent with the text of Genesis 1. Moreover, Revelation 21:23 makes reference to this state existing in the New Creation.

See also What was the light of the first day of creation? and According to YEC, were the days of Genesis 1 all 24 hour periods? (Answer) for some additional discussion on this point.

(S) There does not seem to be any "firmament" so Raqiya could refer to an expanse of air, perhaps. Is this how ancient Israelites understood the "hydrologic cycle"?

I can't speak to ancient Israelites understanding of the hydrologic cycle. However, "firmament" is an artifact of the belief at one point that the sky was literally a transparent dome of some rigid substance. Specifically, it comes from translators who held such belief substituting a word with that meaning for the Hebrew "Raqiya". Since the concept does not originate in actual Scripture, we should be very careful of ascribing weight to it. Practically speaking, most modern Creationists reject the idea of a "firmament".

(T) When the Dry Land is named Earth refers to something different than the first time. But the first time, Earth is being described as being formless.

We use "earth" today to refer to both the planet, and to dry land (usually dirt). What's the issue with Hebrew having the same double meaning?

How can plants exist without photosynthesis? Was there some kind of other mechanism by which plants could arise?

Light was created on Day 1, so I fail to see what problem exists here.

(T) In Genesis 2, the plants have not yet even come up by day 6.

Genesis 2 may be referring to the Garden of Eden, specifically, and not to the Earth as a whole. Or it may be referring to specific kinds of plants, rather than to all plants. That the vegetation in 2:5 is qualified ("... of the field") gives a strong suggestion that the latter, or perhaps both, is the case.

(S) In science, the stars are massive (some much more massive than the sun), and many would predate the Sun and the Earth.

Massive, yes. Predate the sun? No, as already explained.

(S) From the fossil record, it seems that birds were created after land animals.

The fossil record is not a record of Creation, but of burial. Given that, it should hardly be surprising that animals that can fly would evade the oncoming Flood waters for longer than those that can't.

Birds trace their lineage to the dinosaurs.

This is pure assertion, and highly questionable. In fact, most Creationists maintain that the kinds of animals are fixed, and no kind is ancestral to any other. In fact, even non-Creationists assert that the claim that one animal kind can "evolve" into another is unwarranted.

But we have fossils of warm-blooded animals 200 million years ago, while pterosaur fossils go back to 170 million years ago.

...which should be a hint that the "traditional" explanation may be wrong!

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  • @djc chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/134852/…
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 18, 2022 at 17:18
  • What is the problem with the last quote? Dinosaurs were most likely warm-blooded animals. And no problem with cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals coexisting...
    – Taladris
    May 31, 2023 at 9:47
  • @Taladris, "most likely"... based on what evidence? True dinosaurs are not birds, nor did they "evolve" into birds, and they were believed for a long time to be cold-blooded reptiles. Claims of them being warm-blooded seem to be largely based on metabolic activity of individuals in a panicked state combined with a whopping dose of wishful thinking.
    – Matthew
    May 31, 2023 at 14:28
  • "based on what evidence?": you can start here or there. Also, "true" dinosaurs were not birds, no one dispute this, and they didn't evolve into birds. A better statement is that birds evolved from a subset of dinosaurs.
    – Taladris
    Jun 2, 2023 at 1:48
  • You didn't answer my question: why would the co-existence of warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals would be an issue?
    – Taladris
    Jun 2, 2023 at 1:49
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In the beginning...

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)

How should this be understood? Without any other information it seems to describe what happened. However, a created earth is at odds with the next verse, and the events of days two and three, and verse 2:4 which states the earth was made in a day, not in the beginning.1

In his commentary of Genesis, H.C. Leupold notes it is "a characteristic Hebrew way of summarizing the whole story before the details are given."2Here is an example:

Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. (Genesis 28:5 ESV)

After stating Jacob went to Paddan-aram the narrative continues by describing events which occurred in Bethel not Paddan-aram.

This method of recording history is consistent with what God declares about Himself:

9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Isaiah 46)

Upon reading all of Genesis, the first verse should be understood as a summary statement. In contrast to Babylonian and Egyptian stories, Genesis begins by making the point God did all of the work without opposition or help from other gods.

Genesis 1:1 does not contain any details of creation nor does it have an explicit answer to the question of "why" God created. However, since the Bible is God's revelation to man, a reasonable interpretation of the summary is, In the beginning [of revealing Himself] God created the heavens and the earth. Only after making this summary are selected details provided.

Evening and Morning...
The issue of time is central to both theological and scientific questions about the Genesis narrative. There are three aspects to the issue: (1) The unit of measure, days. (2) Declaring the demarcation between days as evening and morning. (3) The period covered is seven-days (168 hours).

There can be no physical evening and morning until after the fourth day, but, with respect to measuring time, this is a non-issue. To illustrate, consider how years are used to report the age of creation as 13.8 billion, and the age of the sun as 4.6 billion and the earth as 4.5 billion. How is possible to measure almost 9 billion years before the sun and earth exist? The answer is by making observations in the created world and establishing a standard unit of measure. Then, based on the assumption time is continuous and unchanging, the age of things may be estimated. Setting aside questions on the accuracy of scientific estimates, the important consideration is recognizing this approach measures time retrospectively.

Unlike science Genesis reports time proleptically. Without need of earth and sun, God is able to declare there was evening and morning...the...day. Proleptic and retrospective methods are "two sides of the same coin." It is not logical to question the necessity of an actual evening and morning in order to measure a day while claiming the "correct" time should be given in years, 9 billion which are measured without the sun or earth.

Any method of reporting time from the beginning comes with certain assumptions. The chosen unit of measure does not vary, is continuous, and is contiguous. With respect to Genesis, these three are present. Since an actual day is from evening to evening, morning occurs during a day. The statement evening and morning...the day demonstrates a day is not counted until morning of the following day. This method of counting demands each day be contiguous with the next. Gaps are impossible. Coincidentally, even though evening and morning implies darkness, the narrative is given so as to report every work as occurring while it is light, after it is morning.

Lacking any evidence to the contrary, counting days consecutively implies each day is measuring the same period of time, 24-hours. This is confirmed elsewhere:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20)

12 And the LORD said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” (Exodus 31)

While the amount of time is disputed, the fact is science makes and uses the same considerations as found in the Bible to calculate and offer an alternative duration.

There is a significant "scientific" aspect of God's proleptic use of evening and morning. Scientifically speaking, "what if" the earth and sun did exist from the beginning? When it is evening somewhere, it is morning on the other side of the earth. Speaking globally, it is always evening and morning simultaneously. Exact measurements of evening and morning such as are understood after the seventh day require a fixed location. Therefore, the primary significance of God's proleptic method of measuring specific days, is to declare there will be a unique location on the earth at which a day begins and ends. Based upon the New Testament, that location is where Jesus was crucified.

God's measuring of time not only looks ahead to the work of creating earth and the sun; it looks ahead to the work of salvation. Likewise, when the New Testament states eternal life is traced from the tree on which Jesus was crucified, this follows the pattern in Genesis which states physical death is traced from a tree. As the Bible says, declaring the end from the beginning.

Plants
Creating plants before the sun is a non-issue if the length of a day is 24-hours. First, no vegetation will die from 24-hours of darkness. That assumes there any darkness present. God separated the light from the darkness so there is no reason to insert darkness into the process of creation. Furthermore God's work is always described as taking place after it is morning and before evening. This picture means after be light... nothing was done in darkness. Since God is light in whom there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), there is no reason think evening also brings darkness.

Stars
The Bible states stars were created to give light to the earth. The Big Bang Theory claims the first "stars" which formed no longer exist. According to the theory, only two elements, hydrogen and helium are a direct result of the initial event. The other 116 elements were formed by stellar nucleosynthesis. After the stars exploded, the elements will be found throughout the universe.3

According to the theory, the heavy elements which are found on the earth had to have come from "stars" formed before the sun: stars which no loner exist. There is a certain irony in a theory which demands physical material found on the earth, be from the oldest stars whose light may still be observed from the earth. Even more ironic is a theory which states stellar nucleosyntheses, a process of fusion which consumes the original hydrogen and helium make up of star, somehow fails to function that way in the oldest stars, whose makeup remains only hydrogen and helium and whose light is still visible from the earth.

Over and over again science discovers anomalies which, according to the laws of nature, are impossible...yet God's miraculous works described in the Bible are called myths. The parting of the Red Sea is a myth, but the oldest star, Methuselah is real. The laws of gravity are real, yet the universe underwent a second expansion event, contrary to the laws of gravity. Science proclaims two unique expansion events which define the universe. What does the Bible say?

....And God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:4)
...and to separate the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:18)

On the first day God separated light from dark energy and on the fourth day He separated light from dark matter. The Hebrew word translated as separate is בָּדַל, which is often rendered as to divide. What began as a whole was divided. In other words, the darkness occupied more space: enter image description here

Science states the universe is 95% dark energy and dark matter, neither of which interact with light. Science fails to state the Bible says God separated light from darkness.

Birds
Science disputes the sequence of fish, birds, and land animals by saying the fossil evidence shows birds are more recent then land animals.

However, fossils are evidence of when an animal died. So the appropriate way to report the evidence is to say the fossil evidence shows the first animals to die were fish, then land animals, and finally birds. The Bible states death entered creation as a result of man. The question from a Biblical perspective is how would man's impact on the environment affect animal life? Man's immediate impact is on the physical world (think of climate change) not the animal kingdom. Any change to the environment would most likely first affect aquatic life.

If the Bible is correct about the reason for death, one would predict fish to die before either birds or land animals. Between birds and land animals, one would predict birds to be the last to be affected. They are best suited to avoid man and any harm brought to the environment. The fossil record is in agreement with the Biblical explanation for death in the created world.

Conclusion...How Old?
The OP does not raise the question of age: is the earth old or new? I would like to conclude by addressing this question in terms of dating fossils with 14C.

Carbon-14 (14C) occurs naturally; natural 14C is from a physical process established by God. The half-life of 14C is 5,730 years with an uncertainty of 40 years. If the age of the earth is about 6,000 years, then one would expect every fossil to have some amount of 14C. Is this the case?

Furthermore, if Genesis is a factual account of creation, one would expect the oldest fossils to have smaller amounts of 14C. Not because they are millions of years old, because Biblically speaking, most fossils are from animals who died less than one half-life of 14C. The older animals lived and died at a time the environment had smaller amounts of 14C.

Rather than search for life outside the earth, science should contemplate the significance of the carbon based life on earth. The Biblical number of man is six; carbon is the sixth element. Salvation is of the Jews and there were 12 tribes; the atomic number of carbon is 12. When Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons, the list of names for the 12 tribes increased to 14. When Christ returns the list of names will be restored to 12. In other words, 14 names is unstable, just as 14C is unstable. When the Bible was written there was no knowledge of carbon or 14C. How does one explain the accuracy of the Bible's proclamation of salvation and carbon based life and death?

Finally, I am not surprised to learn carbon-14 was discovered by two men working together, Martin Kamen and Samuel Ruben. Both men were Jews. Their discovery was made in 1940, approximately 5,700 years, one half-life of 14C after creation. How miraculous! Two Jewish scientists discovered carbon-14 at a point in Biblical history equal to the first half-life 14C.

Do not settle merely for intelligent design. Believe the blue print of creation given by God. Find salvation in ערב ויהי־בקר.


1. If a day is 24-hours, the "day" in Genesis 2:4 would be the 24-hour period which began during the second day and ended during the third day.
2. H.C. Leupold D.D., Exposition of Genesis, Baker Book House, 1960, Volume II, p. 770.
3. Proponents of intelligent design will argue the laws of thermodynamics prevent an explosion from bringing order. Rather then go down that road, I believe it would be better to point to the absurdity of the need for numerous explosions, possibly in the millions which the Big Bang Theory requires for the earth to even exist as a lifeless inorganic object.

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The Creation account is primarily a spiritual account, not a physical one. Scientific and many other physical-based assessments therefore don't apply. (This was just discussed at my fellowship this week based on God's revelation).

For example, God is not speaking of physical light when it is created before the sun, but something more like truth. A day is not a physical day but a spiritual day, which appears elsewhere in the Bible and in prophecy as well, such as in referencing "The Day of the Lord." This kind of day just means a complete period of events that go together, and it starts in ignorance or lack (darkness) before something good is produced (light).

Also keep in mind that time itself is a physical attribute so timing of things is not going to fit our physical framework. When a tested Prophetic elder I know asked about the age of the earth, for example, God answered that it is a "meaningless question," explaining further that time didn't exist in God's original Creation. In fact, it came up later that time wasn't even part of God's design but was a consequence of Satan's rebellion.

It is difficult to impossible for our human brains to grasp such things, but just because they don't make sense to us, doesn't mean they aren't so. For example, the conversation of the Prophetic elder mentioned above was initiated by an article where scientists reported evidence of the speed of light (related to time) having changed. No human alive now has observed such a change, so none can really comprehend what it would be like for the ruler of physics itself to change, but that doesn't mean that it isn't so or can't have been. In fact, anyone who has looked into quantum physics will be familiar with just how unfamiliar the behavior of reality itself can be.

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  • "time wasn't created till later in the process", that's ridiculous. Leaving aside that time is a function of mass and space, nothing could happen without time. The whole idea of "later" is utter nonsense if time doesn't exist! Besides, even if one argues that time didn't exist until "later", that means age 'wouldn't count' until time existed, making "the age of the Earth" a perfectly valid question. Moreover, it is one to which Scripture gives a clear answer in the form of genealogies dating back to Creation, which works out to a "birth date" of roughly 4000 BC.
    – Matthew
    Aug 29, 2023 at 2:41
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    Hard to reconcile days being spiritual with the command to observe the Sabbath. Sep 1, 2023 at 4:41
  • Please do feel free to test the prophetic word for yourself. And I did misspeak a little in that time wasn't even created by God but was a consequence of the rebellion of Satan - an event which happened before the forming of mankind. The very initiating circumstance of the prophetic conversation, though, was a scientific article read by the asker in which scientists found evidence that the speed of light hasn't been consistent. As for the Sabbath, I see no conflict since God uses the physical to represent the spiritual on many things, especially under Old Covenant ex. Jesus was the lamb of God Sep 11, 2023 at 18:34
-1

An Objective study of the creation's design reveal much about the Nature of our God and Father.

Day 0

  • Only 1 Person is conscious in a dark room. The 1 Eternal conscious being; I AM

Day 1

  • This 1 alone Person made water, heavens and the earth without form…. All the material is floating around a dark room. Water and earth in strange random distribution and formations throughout this dark room.

  • God said let there be light and there was light… humans do not understand light today(John 1:5). Is it a photon or a wave, or some quantum unknown...who knows? The Creator does.

  • God desired light. He wanted to see what He had created so that He could begin forming like clay all the material of dry land He had just created.

Day 2

  • The waters, the Spirit of Life. God decided at this point that he wanted to separate the heavens from the clay directly and created a physical barrier to divide the heavens which He created on the day prior from the clay(earth and water).

  • It was at this point God revealed in metaphor the conduit of the life to come, His Spirit consciousness, which bridges the waters that are separated here. Jesus is that upgraded bridge.

Day 3

  • The Seed of Life - His whole mechanism for life and how His Spirit, the water can bring forth new life.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the 3rd day.

Day 4

  • The Father is unapproachable Light. Thee only source of all life. The source of all energy that powers every movement of we see.
  • God wanted to make His creation semi-automated. He designed it to have consistent, repeatable cycles that are predicable....In all systems ever designed, repeatability and consistency of a task serves as a prime candidate for automation.
  • So He created the 2 major luminaries to take on this task that just runs on a loop.
  • God is an artist/engineer/architect. He created all the laws by which He creates as well. He chooses His own limitations to His design so that His creation can be inhabited by us. His prize creatures intended to be one with Him in consciousness. At this point He dwells on both sides of the firmament.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great [d]lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the 4th day.

Day 5 -

-Sentient Life Begins - If you’ve ever designed a system, first you create the environment then define rules and laws that govern how the system will function in that environment. On the fifth day, He is now ready to start creating the higher forms of creatures that will be governed by these Laws (the PURE physics)

  • God uses 2 days to design and create all the diverse creatures with sentience. On this day he creates all the creatures that reproduce in the water and also the birds.
  • We see He is progressing how He designs. From micro organisms to fish, and then birds. Now the waters and the empty space enclosed by the firmament both are inhabited with creatures.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the [f]firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Day 6

  • God makes a distinction here in that He now brings forth a progression of consciousness from the earth. First in the form of what we call mammals.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

  • But He’s not done yet on this day. He likes the number 7 so He wanted it to be complete before the 7th day.
  • At this point He created His most amazing and complex, beyond any understanding of the very creatures themselves…. Mankind. We are His prize possession. We are the entire reason He decided to create for His pleasure in the first place….So that He can communicate and dwell with His children….just like a good Father would.

Day 7

  • Flips the switch from manual to full-auto and God chills.
-1

How can plants exist without photosynthesis? Was there some kind of other mechanism by which plants could arise? Trees, for example, grow by sunlight from the atmosphere sequestering carbon after it is separated from the oxygen, and this carbon adds to the mass of the tree.emphasized text

Plants can exist through the night without the need for photosynthesis up to the morning at sun rise. The plants in Genesis were in the same state, waiting for God to create the light.

-1

The S issues with contemporary science are non-entities. The biblical narrative of Creation is not intended to be scientifically accurate.

2(T). However, "evening and morning" are happening without the sun and the moon. Did ancient Israelites believe that the light is not coming from the sun itself?

Yes. See the introduction and the part after the heading "Historical-Critical Approach: Separating between Daylight and Sunlight" of [1].

3(S). There does not seem to be any "firmament" so Raqiya could refer to an expanse of air, perhaps. Is this how ancient Israelites understood the "hydrologic cycle"?

This should be 3(T). The Raqiya or raqia is, according to ancient cosmology, a rigid, transparent dome like an upside down bowl that prevents the waters above it from falling on the (flat) earth. Quoting from [2]:

The idea of the sky above us as a solid structure is shared by almost all pre-modern human cultures. It is best understood as a product of the pre-scientific mind, attempting to make sense of what it sees and offering an intuitive, though factually incorrect, account.

The sky is blue because it is full of water, like the sea. Water doesn’t fall on us because something is holding it up, and that something is transparent, since we can see the blue hue of the liquid behind it. This barrier is dome shaped, since we see the heavens above curving into the horizon and meeting the flat earth.

This understanding is so ubiquitous that some anthropologists consider it a “general human belief.” As Paul Seely, a Bible scholar who works on the intersection of ANE literature and science, writes: "Apart from a scientific education, it is just too natural for people to think of the sky as something solid."

In short, to the ancients the universe was a terrarium of sorts, a carefully preserved space that was fashioned for them by a creator or creators, a “bubble” in endless waters, in which the terrifying calamity of certain flooding was prevented by walls that vaulted above them, the floodgates (אֲרֻבֹּת הַשָּׁמַיִם) of Genesis 7:11. Thus, to the ancient Israelites, the depiction of the second day of creation was natural: the creator was building for them the firmament, the great dome of the sky, and protecting them from being drowned by the waters above.

4(T). Raqiya and Yabasha are named Heaven and Earth, but they were already mentioned in the first verse. So now they are finally made? The verb is "Yaase" when the Raqiya is being made the second time. And when the Dry Land is named Earth refers to something different than the first time. But the first time, Earth is being described as being formless.

Day 1:

"Heaven" here is that ABOVE the formless mass of waters, the abode of God.

"Earth" is the formless mass of waters.

Day 2:

"Heaven" is the Raqia. It is NOT the Heaven of Day 1, which is ABOVE the waters which are ABOVE the Raqia.

Day 3:

"Earth" is the dry land which appeared after the waters below the raqia were gathered into one area. It is NOT the Earth of Day 1, which was the initial formless mass of water.

References

[1] Farber, Zev (2016). "If the Sun Is Created on Day 4, What Is the Light on Day 1?". TheTorah.com. https://thetorah.com/article/if-the-sun-is-created-on-day-4-what-is-the-light-on-day-1

[2] Fass, Oren (2017). "My Encounter with the Firmament". TheTorah.com. https://thetorah.com/article/my-encounter-with-the-firmament

-1

This way of approaching the text (alluded to in the phrasing of the question) is fundamentally flawed.

To properly understand what Genesis 1 is saying, one should consider to whom it was written, and what the concerns were that it was addressing.

It was written to ancient Israelites who had recently escaped slavery in Egypt.

Therefore it is written to undo some of the thinking that comes from generations of people living in slavey to ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians made several claims regarding the origin of the world. They claimed that the god Atum emerged from the primordial waters, created the land of Egypt and the Nile river, and then took on human form as Pharaoh.

The implication of such a story is that Pharaoh is the image of the god Atum, and that he is supremely powerful, and able to order things into existence.

Genesis flatly rejects that story and insists that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth, and that it came to exist at Yahweh’s command. Further, that all human’s are created in Yahweh’s image.

Ancient Israelites were not interested in the mechanics of how the universe was created, rather they were concerned with who was in charge of it. Therefore what we’re reading in Genesis is what was going on at the management level, not at the mechanical/coal face level.

Here’s a better way to read the creation narrative of Genesis 1.

A couple of years ago, I created a house - by the power of my word (made powerful by a significant bank loan).

I met with my builder in an office and spent several days of work, issuing orders for my house.

On the first day I said to my builder, let there be a kitchen with these features. And when the tradies were done, I saw that it was good.

And on the second day, I said, let there be a balcony to look out over the view, and so the tradies got to work and it was so.

And on the third day I said let there be three bedrooms and a study – and it was so, and I saw that it was good. And so on.

The difference between God and I, is that whereas the builder and tradies obeyed my word, with God the universe and the elements themselves obeyed his word. Furthermore, when God created, he could see the end and the beginning all at once – since he is beyond time, and so he could perceive that his creation was good.

Note that the amount of time I spent in the builders office ordering them to build a house with the specifications outlined, has no connection with how long the build actually took on the ground if someone were to watch the process unfold by staking out the build site.

And furthermore if I described by time in the builders office, and said I spent 6 days doing this, it is not contradicting the observation that the build took an entire year to unfold at the site.

Furthermore - to go back to how Genesis 1 works - note that no time is specified in verse 1. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. The 6 days it goes on to describe are God organising rather than creating his world (by making orders that the universe itself obeyed over some unspecified period)

Of course, going back to my house building analogy – suppose you had no idea how houses came to be, so you decided to use the scientific method. You stake out a patch of land, and notice that the first thing that happens is that a buldoser comes by and levels the land. Next a concreter comes and lays down a slab, then some brickies put down bricks, then a roofer, and the sparkies and plumbers do their work. Then tilers, etc, until there is a house.

If you documented all of that, you’d have a good description of how a house came to be – but you’d be completely missing the bit about where the owner of the house met with a builder and issued orders by the power of the owner’s word.

And – furthermore – the description of what went down in the builder’s office as the owner gave their instructions would not be in any conflict with the description of the build from the guys staking out the house construction site. They’re looking at the same thing from two points of view.

When I issued an order for my balcony and kitchen, I did not care what order the builder assembled the final product. That the plumbing and concrete pad were installed before any of the specific things that I ordered does not imply any inaccuracy in saying I ordered the kitchen before the bedrooms and never even mentioned the foundations or plumbing. I also didn’t care which order the actual things I ordered were assembled.

The book of Genesis wasn’t written to give a set of instructions on how to go about building a universe – rather, it was written to tell tell the Israelites what was going on at the management level.

It can be completely true that Yahweh spent 6 days of work issuing orders, and also true that the universe he ordered to exist took 13.8 billion years to assemble itself in obedience to his order, while Yahweh observed (from outside the space-time realm) that it was all “good” (meaning it matched exactly what he had ordered).

-2

Genesis 1 says, (in Hebrew) "Burashyt bura Elohym at Heshmia'm v'at h'eartz"

"In the beginning (Burashyt) created(bura) God(elohym) the(at), Heaven's(Heshmia'm) and(v') the(at) h(the) Earth(eartz).

Please bear with me for a moment, because it is not possible to talk about Genesis 1, unless you understand how Genesis is constructed, and what it represents. And that starts with understanding the original words used to write Genesis 1, and what they mean.

You may notice that in this translation I've provided there is a double occurrence of the word 'the'. This is because the "h'" that precedes the word for Earth(Eartz) is a prefix (the letter Hey), that means "the". So what does the "at" (Aleph-Tav), also translated as "the" really mean? FWIW, this is a question that has been asked, many times throughout history, and there is no clear consensus of it's true meaning. But it is used in many places, and is often translated as the word "the". I do not believe that is a correct translation. The word "the" is the letter Hey, used as a prefix to what follows, as in h'Eartz "The Earth". But let's look at "at" Aleph-Tav a little further.

Aleph is (A) is the first letter. Tav (T) is the last letter (like the English letter "Z", in English) of the Alephbeyt, what we call the "alphabet". (note: in Hebrew, the second letter is Beyt and is the same as our letter "B". So they're actually the same name for the same thing, with only a slightly different spelling).

All of these passages show that God "spoke" everything He made (no matter what day) into existence. He used His "word". But before He used words, He had to have created a way to say those words. So "created Elohym, at, heavens, and at, the Earth.

(note: in the word "v'at", v (the letter Vav) is prefix that means "and" - so: at the heavens and at the Earth)

"at" appears to mean, "from beginning to end" or "from aleph to tav".

So, "In the beginning, created Elohim, from-begining-to-end, the Heavens and from-beginning-to-end the Earth"

The Aleph-Tav is therefore everything, (including) the alphabet.

In other words, He created the alephbeyt first and then used the alephbeyt, and the specific "kinds" of meanings each letter has, to form words, that are defined by the association that exists between the letters in the words, to form sentences that he used to speak creation into existence.

So, let's look at that first letter (Aleph) as an example of how this works.

The word for the letter Aleph (A) is spelled Aleph-Lamed-Pey.

Alpeh or the letter A. In the original paleo-Hebrew, was an image of an ox head. If you turn the A upside-down and you can see the nose and 2 horns that were, at one time, one of the original shapes of the letter. The letter means: the number 1; "ox"; "first"; "strength", and as a prefix it means the pronoun "I".

The second letter in Aleph is Lamed or the letter that in English produces the sound "L". The paleo image is of a shepherd's staff and it means: "a shepherd's staff"; "to herd"; "prod"; "instruct"; "teach" and "authority". As a prefix, the letter is used to indicate the word "to" or "for", as in, 'a letter "to" you' or 'a gift "for" you'.

The last letter is Pey, which is the picture of a mouth and it means: "mouth"; "speech" and "to speak".

The first two letters, Aleph-Lamed (El) often refer to God - the "first authority". The 3rd letter means "speech". So, one interpretation of the first letter (Aleph) of the alpephbeyt means "God Speaks". If you read it backwards (as a palindrome), It can mean, "Speaks(Pey)" "With Authority(Aleph-Lamed)".

But this language wherein the letters have multiple meanings, allows a single word to have several definitions, that tend to enhance our understanding of what the words the letters spell means, from multiple perspectives.

The letter Aleph also means "I". The letter Lamed means "to" and the letter Pey means "Speak". So Aleph can also mean, "I to speak". From an English perspective this could be translated as "I to(you) speak". If you read it backwards, it could be translated as "Speak (you)to I(or me)". Thus, Aleph represents our ablity to speak back-and-forth with God.

But this ability to speak back-and-forth is not only confined to God, because he has created the Alephbeyt and then spoke it to us. Therefore, because of the Alephbeyt, we can not only speak to God, we can also speak to each other too.

But more importantly, and perhaps most important of all, is that we can also speak to "ourselves". For without our ability to speak with what follows from the Aleph (that first letter) to the Tav (the last letter), we could not use those letters to form words, and without words we could not form sentences and without sentences would could not even form a single cohesive thought!

Think about that for a minute.

God's gave us his alphabet (alephbeyt) and his word gives rise to our intelligence and to our ability to think. For without it, our ability to communicate would be no more than that of the animals. In fact, it "is" what separates us from the other creatures God created.

Remember, science today has suggested several alternative theories for existence: not only multiple dimensions; or that we are merely clusters of vibrations (words?), that resonate in patters that allow us to experience reality; or that maybe we are living simply in a hologram! Then ask yourself, what is the point of trying to reconcile science to Genesis 1? This is especially true, if the words are in fact, the words of God.

You may see in this explanation a sufficient answer to the OP's question and then again you may not. That's okay, because although there is a practical and objective truth that does answer the question (even if it is not this answer), it would be wise to remember Solon's advice to Croesus, when deciding whether or not something is good or sufficient.

If you're curious though, here is another question:

If in ancient Hebrew (i.e., the 5 books of the Torah) all of the letters in the alphabet have specific meanings that in-turn are used to spell words (premise 1), wherein those letters also define the meanings of the words they spell (premise 2), and that the names of the letters (aleph, beyt, gamel, etc..) themselves are composed of those same letters that must have had meaning before could be used to spell even that first letter, Aleph (premise 3)

Then, which came first, the letters or the meanings of the letters?

Or were they all created at once in a single instant?

Chicken or Egg?

You decide.

4
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Nov 6, 2023 at 14:41
  • Thank you for the link to "how it is different that others". What I wrote addresses #5 in that post. If you feel I have offended (ni'kas) you, it was not my intent that 'you' should 'take' offense. I attempt only to answer the question in the context it was asked - Gen 1. I leave it to those who read it to make their own choices. We often fear hearing Emet (Aleph-Mem-Tav - beginning-middle-end), and fear we are being compelled or coerced into some sort of compliance. Free will is first. Sama (hear). If you sama, you act. If you do not act, you did not sama. No compulsion. Only words. Nov 6, 2023 at 18:08
  • No offense taken. I provided the links so new users will be able to get the most from the site. I have seen many users think that SE is like a forum (which it is not) and quickly leave because of the misunderstanding. I hope you take the time to see how things work and contribute accordingly.
    – agarza
    Nov 6, 2023 at 18:12
  • Thank you. I am glad you have not taken offense. I will read all of what you provided again, so that I miss nothing. My post is necessarily long, because simply offering the answer I made in the two paragraphs that start, "Remember, science today has suggested...", and without context, would have simply opened the door for "more" questions and confusion, than thoughtful consideration of what may be the answer the OP will find more useful, "in the end". Thank you again. And thank you too, for being so responsive. Nov 6, 2023 at 18:23

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